Spagnuolo 'very, very' optimistic about Atogwe return

The longer O.J. Atogwe goes without serious flirtation from a team, the better chance the team that openly wants him most will be successful. St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo remains openly optimistic – maybe a step above that – when it comes to the team’s chances of reeling the turnover producer in.

Speaking to Steve Wyche of NFL.com, Spagnuolo sounded more optimistic than he did last week when Atogwe entered the market as an unrestricted free agent as the Rams didn’t want to pay him nearly $7 million for this season and couldn’t hammer out a longterm extension with him.

"I am very, very hopeful,” Spagnuolo said, per Wyche. "I am doing this (crossing his fingers) and I'm on my knees all the time hoping that this thing works out.

"Our hope all along was to try and get a deal done with O.J. to keep him on the Rams. We want him to stay here, and I think he wants to be here. It's ongoing and we're very, very hopeful.”

What the Rams have to be hoping must – and maybe what they counted on, at least to a degree – is that the miserable timing for Atogwe works out in their favor. Teams with glaring needs at safety did what they could to address the position in free agency and the draft. No one could wait around to see if, indeed, Atogwe would become free in June. Teams, the ones that are doing any spending at all, have spent their budgets by now. Few have money left over, at least the kind Atogwe is seeking, to get a deal done.

Atogwe is returning from a shoulder injury and the labor cloud that is hanging over the game has teams hanging on to their wallets. As we speculated previously, a one-year deal might make the most sense for Atogwe if he isn’t getting anything near what he was seeking on the open market. Remember, if the Rams were not going to match his demands before June 1, what makes anyone believe they’ll do so now that he’s a free agent and receiving tepid interest?

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